TOOMEY: Over the past few decades, the problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria has increased at a dramatic rate. As a result, more human diseases are becoming difficult to treat. Now there is evidence farming practices may be a contributing factor. Researchers focused on two pig farms that routinely feed their animals the antibiotic tetracycline to promote growth. They tested samples from the wastewater lagoons on these farms and from the surrounding soil and groundwater. They were looking for changes in the bacteria that occur naturally in the soil and water, and found antibiotic-resistant genes nearly identical to those in the guts of the pigs. In other words, bacteria in the pig waste had transferred the resistant genes to bacteria in the environment. Researchers suspect people might be acquiring these genes, since a significant portion of the U.S. water supply comes from groundwater. That's this week's health update. I'm Diane Toomey.
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